Trade group urges Putrajaya to prep economy for Covid-19 fallout

A woman with a mask passes by a thermal screening point at the international arrival terminal of Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang January 21, 2020. — Reuters pic
A woman with a mask passes by a thermal screening point at the international arrival terminal of Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang January 21, 2020. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 16 — The government must take steps to shield the Malaysian economy from the effects of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) that is sweeping China, the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industries (ACCCIM) said.

It noted that China is Malaysia’s main trading partner and will have its economy battered by Covid-19.

“With increasing anxieties and wariness about the extent and duration of economic and business disruptions on the domestic economy, investors’ confidence and consumer sentiment, Malaysian businesses and households must remain vigilant and be prepared to brace for economic fallout from the Covid-19 outbreak.

“More importantly, the government must have the capacity and policy space to safeguard our economy against temporary disruptions while continuing to strengthen and reboot Malaysia’s competitiveness and comparative advantages in the global marketplace. 

“This is deemed vital to ensure that Malaysia continues to achieve a sustainable growth path but also to support our businesses and industries as well as the workforce for the future,” the group said in a statement.

ACCCIM also said it will submit a comprehensive report titled the “Economic Revitalisation Plan” to the government on economic and financial measures it believed would help brace the country.

The report will cover health safety preventive measures, financial assistance and industry support as well as sustaining consumer resilience.

Among others, the ACCCIM suggested a Tourism Relief Fund to assist the sector, a one-year exemption on the tourism tax, service tax on accommodation, and departure levy.

It also proposed waiving the road tax for tour bus operators, taxis and e-hailing platform drivers.

ACCCIM also proposed that companies be allowed to reduce contributions to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) by 2 per cent, ostensibly to avoid layoffs and to spur consumer spending.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is already due to announce an economic stimulus package on February 27.

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